Two Things

Hey guys!

Today I am celebrating Frog & Pencil turning 2. Life has been brilliantly busy with commissions, etsy creations and wedding fair prep that this birthday really snuck up on me; I didn’t have anything prepared to mark it as a milestone. The Bear and I won’t actually be celebrating it until after a big wedding fair in a few weeks time. However, it’s kind of a big deal for me and I’m really proud to have reached this point that I wanted to dedicate some time to reflect on my journey so far.

hoppy 2 birthday

So, as F&P turns 2, here are a two things I’d like to share on a variety of topics; enjoy!

TWO THINGS I’M MOST PROUD OF

The first one is kind of obvious. I’m SO proud to have made it to my second year of being a self-employed creative. If I’ve learnt one thing in my lifetime it’s how to be tenacious and this skill has often been my life raft. There have been plenty of moments where I doubt it all but that niggle to keep on going gets me back on board.

Looking back to when I first started, I’m really proud of how I’ve evolved over the last 2 years. From my drawings and designs to my styling, I feel it’s all just getting better. I guess I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am as an illustrator and what it is I create and for me, having that understanding is huge.

TWO THINGS I’VE LEARNT

Network, network, network, network and network some more; and I don’t mean in a schmoozey way. Perhaps we just need a friendlier word for network. Community. Find your community and embrace it. Being self-employed and working from home can be a really lonely place. Get to know like-minded people in your industry, make friends, collaborate, support each other, inspire one another and create something beautiful together. Your mental health and the work you make will be richer for it.

Just Do Something. I’m rolling into 2018 with this new motto. I was inspired after reading ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck’ by Mark Manson at the end of 2017 and one quote has stuck with me, “just do something”. It can be quite easy to procrastinate when you’re working from home but you need to find a good routine. When I have to pull my finger out and I don’t quite want to, I tell myself to ‘just do something’. One thing be it big or small. When I start that task I usually find my groove and then productivity breeds productivity. Remember the power of ‘just do something’.

TWO THINGS I’M ANXIOUS ABOUT

This is a biggie. Having just finished my tax return (definitely just as stressful as the first time!) it left me feeling pretty down. I pour my heart, energy and most of my time into this business and sometimes I can’t help but feel like ‘what is it all for?’ After 2 years, I’m now starting to return to the conversation about pricing. I know my worth and the value of my work but I have this fear that if I start to increase my prices NO ONE will come near me. I’ll be like a plagued Frog with a sh*tty pencil. I don’t know if I can continue if I leave things as they are. The ultimate question is how do I show others the value of Frog & Pencil?

In just under 2 weeks I’ll be exhibiting at the EDP 2 day wedding fair at the Showground. I’ve never participated in this one before and it’s a whole new ball game. Since the start of the year I’ve been stressing about what to do with my space and I think I’ve finally got a rough plan in place but that pesky anxiety lingers. The sunny side though is that I’ll have Lew and a lot of my community exhibiting there too, so I know it’s going to be ok…wish me luck folks!

TWO THINGS I’M EXCITED ABOUT

This one’s been on the ‘to do’ list for ages and I’m also anxious about it as I’m still to figure out the nitty-gritty but I have 3 awesome collections that I’m about to launch. I’m still not set on a ‘name’ but they’re semi-bespoke/ready to buy pieces that couples can purchase. The design remains the same but I tailor the text to match their big day. I’m really proud of the designs and I’m hoping they’ll be a hit and perhaps help anxiety number 1. It’s exciting none the less; keep your eyes peeled for these beauties to be released into the world!

I started the year with 4 gorgeous wedding invite commissions and 2 are nearly finished so I can’t wait to see how they all develop. But, I’m also really excited about my etsy shop. It did pretty well over Christmas and has been ticking along nicely with bridal party cards and love cards this year. The potential here is incredible and I can’t wait to start working on new ideas and products to sell on this space. So much so, I’m hoping to set time aside each week purely dedicated to etsy creations!

TWO THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN WHEN I FIRST STARTED FROG AND PENCIL

Frog & Pencil is my baby and when you have your own business you will live and breathe it, it’ll ALWAYS be on your mind. You will always be checking your social media. You will always be looking at your e-mails. You will always be working late. You will work most of your weekends. You will always worry about how to bring in the next client. You will underestimate the amount of time you spend working to develop your business. However, it’s my world and I wouldn’t change a thing.

This links nicely to the point above. I put all my love and energy into Frog & Pencil, so much so, when I do take a break I often feel guilty. I think that others might be judging me if I have a random Tuesday afternoon off and it makes me feel bad. I wish someone would have told me it’s ok to take time out. We all need to recharge. We all need to reconnect with the other parts of our world. Getting away from my business gives me clarity and that has a positive impact on all areas of my personal and work life. So if you need a breather don’t give yourself a hard time, put the pencil down, turn off your e-mails and enjoy the moment.

TWO THINGS THAT KEEP ME GOING

Self belief is super powerful…and ice cream helps too.

Create a kick-ass playlist to lift you out of the funk. Music and dancing have saved me many times and will continue to do so. My two current upbeat tracks of choice are these lovelies: HalfNoise, French Class & Sigrid, Strangers – they make me feel awesome.

TWO THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR

My gorgeous couples of course! It feels incredible when you get that e-mail to say ‘you’re hired!’ but it doesn’t compare to when you’ve made the wedding stationery and you see the smiles on their beautiful faces. I did that. Little ole me. It truly makes it all worth it. Thank you to all my couples and clients for trusting me to make something wonderful for your special day. I honestly have the BEST couples.

My hubby Lew. Frog & Pencil wouldn’t be here without his support. He is the most gorgeous person I know and I love him to the moon and back. Thank you Bear for everything you do.

Ok, ok, enough of that soppy stuff! I think it’s time to indulge in a big G&T and gorge on choccy cake. Here’s to the next 2 years, thanks for sticking around!

Cx

Oh yes! Before I go, to celebrate this birthday, I’m offering you guys 20% OFF EVERYTHING on my etsy store. Simply add the code: HOPPYBIRTHDAY2 at the checkout. Hop to Shop here. The deal runs for 2 days and ends on 8th Feb 2018 x

I Pledge To Shop Small, Will You?

Hey guys.

Being away having a little time off has put my blog schedule out of whack but it’s a Thursday and I’d like to chat about something that I’m actually starting to get quite passionate about.

Christmas is just around the corner, so I’m pledging to shop small this year and I’m asking you to also consider it; let me tell you why. Having recently opened my Etsy shop and having barely dipped my toe into the retail market ocean, this is what shopping small means to me. When I see that order e-mail in my inbox the pure joy of it lights up my day and warms my soul. It’s also the cause of many a happy dance. Even the smallest purchase, like a card, means the world to me.

That card, on average costs £2.50 and that to me is fruit for the week. Or perhaps, it’s a ‘pat on the back’ coffee from my favourite indie cafe. Last week, I was able to treat Lewie to lunch and that hasn’t happened for a very long time. It was a simple meal of a toastie and a hot chocolate but I felt amazing and proud that I could do that for him.

These purchases fuel small businesses dreams, and your support helps them to feed their families, pay their bills and most of all it means they can keep making and creating.

Now, I’m not an idiot and I know that people want to get as much as they can for their money, especially at this time of year. I too buy from high street suppliers and from the likes of Amazon simply because it’s cheaper and convenient. You choose where you spend your hard-earned money and all I’m asking is that this year you support some small, independent businesses too. That could result in buying a handful of illustrated cards for your nearest and dearest or deciding to purchase one gift this year from a maker. Put your money back into the local economy and buy your turkey from your favourite butcher down the road or whilst out christmas shopping, stop by an independent cafe for lunch and coffee to recharge instead.

Small businesses can’t compete with the conglomerates but by shopping small and rather than getting something machine-made, you’ll be buying a product that has been handmade with love, passion, time and born from years of experience. There is an abundance of places that’s full of amazing people online. Sites that spring to mind are Etsy, Folksy, Ohh Deer and Not On The High Street but stop by the indie stores in your towns and cities too, you might find some unexpected beautiful items. Norwich is full of them, especially around The Lanes and Jarrolds has a lovely card section that supports locals too. You could also hop over to a nearby Christmas Craft Fair, that’ll be full of indie makers.

Who knows, you might find a seller you adore and would buy from again for all sorts of occasions, not just Christmas. Support them further and share the love by liking their social media channels, like what they post and even share some posts too. Oh and don’t forget a review, they’re incredibly insightful and helpful.

It may take a little more time and effort but your support is truly worth it. Be the reason someone has a happy dance moment and fill their hearts with festive glee.

I’m taking the pledge to support small, who’s with me?

I pledge to shop small badge

Cx

Meet The Maker

Hey guys,

Well, the lurgy has struck the Lily Pad and it’s a ‘Froggy down’ situation but I think I have enough energy to put this together for Blog Post Thursday. Forgive me if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

Today I’m offering up something a little different; a Meet The Maker post where I’ll disclose ten Froggy facts about me; a fun change to my usual posts. So, first off, for those that don’t know, this is me…

Meet the Maker blog post, image of Frog & Pencil

Image credit: The lovely Rose & Spear Photography

FACT 1

One question I’m often asked is, why did I choose the name Frog & Pencil? Well, it’s from a loving nickname my hubby gave me. Apparently, from a certain angle, I look like a Frog. Having created a Frog and a Bear character for our wedding, it naturally progressed to Frog & Pencil for my business. I love the name, it’s certainly memorable but I don’t quite see the Froggy resemblance.

FACT 2

I have dual nationality and was born across the pond in Austin, Texas; I’m officially a cowgirl…best get me some boots and a Stetson!

FACT 3

I love what I do but if I wasn’t an illustrator, I think I’d want to be a florist. I have found a new love of flowers after being in this industry and I’m in awe at how creative people can be with blooms. Their workshops also smell incredible…not sure how I’d deal with the cold though…I’d have to find a fab hat! My Mum kept the most amazing gardens, so I’m hoping I’ve inherited some of those green fingered genes for my own little plot.

FACT 4

I adore Children’s books. When I’m in a bookstore I always make a pit stop at the kids section and you’ll most likely find me giggling away and drooling over the beautiful and playful illustrations. My hero was Roald Dahl and I remember how deliciously lost I found myself within his words and Quentin Blake’s drawings. A dream of mine is to illustrate my own Children’s book one day and to create something that fires off kids imaginations.

FACT 5

At some point, during all my commissions and illustrations, there will be a moment where I utterly hate what I’ve made and I think it’s a pile of poop. I’ve learnt to try to not give in to those feelings and to simply carry on. The magic happens right at the very end when the last brush mark has been made, it just requires a dash of patience and a lot of belief.

FACT 6

I have a phone phobia! I’m fine when it’s friends and family but if my phone rings I get super anxious and tense. And making a call, well that’s the worst! I have to psyche myself up and make sure I have everything ready. For example, sorting out the car insurance. I have to sit in the quiet, have a glass of water and a pad and pen ready. I’ll write down my own details, address, phone number, etc, just incase I blank when they ask for them. I even write down reference numbers even though they’re right there on the letter…they have a funny way of hiding when prompted. Holy moly I just hate it and I feel so relieved when it’s over! Silly right!?! Anyone else feel this way about phones? If so, any tips on how to manage those feelings would be greatly appreciated.

How I survived in a call centre, on the phone selling mortgages for 3 years, I don’t know, I already feel a cold sweat coming on just thinking about it!

FACT 7

I fell out of love with illustration. I was a mature student at University and after an amazing year at foundation level, I was so excited about Uni. It was mostly a horrid three years where I just didn’t fit in and never found my groove. In hindsight, I think I should have seen a doctor as I was terribly depressed and I became a crazy person. I made it to the end though and somehow passed. I graduated in 2011 and still to this day when I’m in that part of Norwich I get very uncomfortable. I’m a believer in things happening for a reason though and I discovered tenacity. It also opened some sideways and upside down doors which inevitably led me to where I am today. I’m happy to say, for the majority of the time, my illustrations and I are friends. 🙂

FACT 8

I ADORE earrings and hats. They make me so happy.

FACT 9

I’m a big fan of cheese but it makes my face tingle…I could be allergic but the stuff is too damn tasty. Nom!

FACT 10

A lovely friend recently asked what inspires my work. Some of the biggies would include, nature and the awesome colour play you can see right outside your window. Couples stories inspire my work, if they have a cute anecdote that can be captured I like to include it. Instagram is a big inspiration, the creative community on there is incredible and spurs me on to make good work too. Lastly, the local wedding supplier community fuels my passion. There are so many talented people in this industry, photographers, stylists, cake makers, designers and florists to name a few and they’re always pushing the boundaries. Their way of thinking encourages me to step out of my comfort zone. I’m honoured that I can call a lot of these guys my friends.

There you have it, some Froggy insight which I hope you enjoyed and could also relate to. The Bear and I will be having a two week break as of this coming Monday, so look out for a new post when I return, there’s always plenty to share. In the meantime, I’m off to battle this lurg!

Adios amigos,

Cx

Hop to my Etsy Shop!

Hello you beauties,

I’ve taken another big leap over at Frog & Pencil HQ and have opened an Etsy shop. I’ve been thinking about it for months now and it’s taken a while to finally come to fruition. I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s taken so long. I think a mixture of trying to find the time to work on it, building up stock and probably a good dose of being hesitant. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and the unknown is a little scary for me. However, I woke up one morning last week with a new-found motivation to jump this hurdle and after wrapping my brain around various postage rates (seriously headache inducing!), it’s good to go.

It may not be quite perfect and I may not know every details about how it works but I’m not going to learn one iota until it’s live and I have some orders. It’s silly to have this stock sitting around the Lily Pad, so why not just give it a whirl!

So, here it is, my little shop selling papery loveliness. At the moment you can find my Bridal Party Postcards, Lovebird Ready-to-Write Wedding Invites and Watercolour Portraits

My products will evolve in the near future and the plan is to introduce Semi-Bespoke Wedding Stationery, other Ready-to-Write options and to branch out into non wedding specific merchandise, such as greeting cards for all occasions, prints and perhaps some home ware goodies.

For now though, do hop on over to give it a look and a share.

Have a cracking weekend!

Cx